Guild Wars engaging April 28

ArenaNet cements date for its anticipated online game; final three Beta Weekend Events dated.

ArenaNet today announced the official release date of Guild Wars for the PC. The massively multiplayer online role-playing game will hit retail stores April 28. The game, set to launch simultaneously in Europe and North America, is being developed by ArenaNet and will be published by its parent company, NCsoft.

Guild Wars creates a Tolkien-esque world populated with courageous heroes and fantastical beasts. Armed with swords and sorcery, players will undertake challenging quests alone, with other players, or with computer-controlled allies. The game also features player-versus-player combat for global prestige in its many arenas.

Using an elaborate skills system, Guild Wars focuses on strategy rather than countless hours of slaying kobolds. The game challenges players of all levels to wisely choose skill sets based on specific situations, in addition to letting them creatively combine skills with teammates for devastating effects and counteracting opponents' strategies by casting defensive magic or silencing enemy spellcasters.

ArenaNet also announced the final three dates for its Beta Weekend Events, which have been running since October to facilitate the catching of bugs and to help balance gameplay. The next event will begin February 18, and it will let users explore the kingdom of Ascalon before The Searing from the Charr. To access the event, gamers need only preorder Guild Wars or win one of many keys distributed by gaming enthusiast sites. Those who have already preordered the game have access to all the events. The final two events are scheduled for the weekend of March 18 and April 15.

The title is the first release from ArenaNet, a development studio comprising ex-Blizzard employees who worked on WarCraft, Diablo, and the Battle.net gaming network.

Guild Wars will ship in two formats: a standard version and a deluxe edition. Included in the deluxe version will be the game's soundtrack, a cloth map of the Guild Wars world, a Logitech headset, three months of voice-over-Internet-protocol application Teamspeak, and a Guild Wars art book. Preorders of both editions will include access to the game April 27, as well as exclusive items from certain retailers such as EBgames.com.

Guild Wars and its deluxe edition will retail for $49.99 and $89.99, respectively, and there will be no subscription fee for Guild Wars. Both editions are rated "T" for Teen. For more information on Guild Wars, explore GameSpot's previous coverage.

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